Top cast for mad caper
THE Bernie Madoff saga as a smart caper comedy? Impossible, you say. Tower Heist proves you wrong. A cunningly engineered movie that’s as much fun as Ocean’s 11, Tower Heist is the tale of a Renoir of rip-off who matches skills with freewheeling, improvisational rivals – the Jackson Pollocks of plunder. At a luxury residential building simply called the Tower (though its actual name, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, is clearly visible in one scene), a dutiful building manager (Ben Stiller) has won the friendship of one of the wealthiest residents – an investor (Alan Alda) who swims on the top of the building in a pool decorated with the image of a giant $100 bill. Arthur Shaw (Alda) isn’t quite as genial as he seems, though: He’s been running a fraudulent investment scheme, so under the all-seeing eye of an FBI agent (Tea Leoni), he is forced to stay home, under (pent)house arrest. Josh (Ben Stiller) is inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt until he learns Shaw has been spending the life savings of all of the building servants, gofers, doormen and cleaning ladies. Josh decides to find Shaw’s secret stash of $20 million or so and give it to his victims. He recruits several inept amateurs, including a bankrupt Wall Streeter (Matthew Broderick); a cheerful elevator operator (Michael Pena); and a slightly clueless concierge (Casey Affleck). A Jamaican maid (a very funny Gabourey Sidibe) turns out to be an expert safecracker because her dad was in the trade. No one in this band of ‘‘Robin Hood and his merry doormen’’, as someone describes them, has any heist experience, so Josh turns to his neighbour and former childhood friend Slide (Eddie Murphy) to direct the break-in. The movie is a little slow to get started, but the care it invests in all these character introductions pays off with interest, and once we know everyone, they play brilliantly off one another. Normally, caper movies fall apart as they go along, but this one gets stronger and stronger on the way to a perfect ending.
– KYLE SMITH, The New York Post
Tower Heist opens on Monday (Boxing Day).
Top team: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick and Gabourey Sidibe in